MORE REPORTS AND REACTION
Stags bruised but happy!
CHAD website, 06 December 2006
MANSFIELD Town's treatment room was busy today after Stags picked up a series of knocks in last night's excellent 2-0 tonic home win against high-flying Swindon Town.
Richie Barker took another kick on the 'dead leg' he had been struggling with and fellow goalscorer Simon Brown strained a calf, as did Matt Hamshaw.
"We have a few bumps and bruises today but I don't think there is anything too serious to keep them out the next game," said manager Peter Shirtliff.
"Carl Muggleton also took a bad kick from their centre forward who I thought was lucky to stay on the pitch. But he a big tough boy and battled on.
"That was a good result for us on a horrible night with a swirling wind, so credit to the players.
"It has been coming. We didn't get a point in November after such a good October. The commitment we've shown in the last couple of games shows we can hopefully move on from here.
"I was pleased with our first half. We came out the traps very quickly and got an early goal which really settled us down. It was nice to score twice from open play after our recent problems.
"It was just the performance we needed against a side up at the top and playing well."
Swindon Town boss Paul Sturrock slammed his players saying: "We switched off at the back and players were not picked up to let them score after just three minutes.
"Then we go and give away a crazy second goal after getting to grips with the game.
This is a dangerous place to come, Mansfield will start to climb the table, and you can not do that."
HAVE STAGS TURNED THE CORNER?
Evening Post, 06 December 2006
Peter Shirtliff is hoping Mansfield have turned the corner after an encouraging 2-0 victory over high-flying Swindon.
The Stags notched their first win in five with first-half goals from Richard Barker and Simon Brown.
And the Stags boss is hoping the result will be a launch-pad to bigger and better things.
"I don't think we deserved to lose at Bristol Rovers and in one or two of our other matches, aside from Rochdale," said Shirtliff. "With the commitment they have shown in the last two games, hopefully we can now move on. A good result has been coming. We were disappointed with what happened in November and we want to put it right.
"I told the players 'well done' when they came in because they showed the effort and the commitment that I am looking for. We deserved it because, particularly in the first half, we created some good chances and scored two goals with two good finishes.
"It was nice to get goals in open play and I'm pleased with the players in terms of team effort and defending.
"We showed good discipline and we had to do that against a team who are at the top and doing well."
Mansfield opened their account after just three minutes. Shirtliff said: "It's always nice to get an early goal, particularly when you are at home. It just settled us down and we started to play some good football.
"It was a horrible night to play. It was windy and the pitch was cutting up, so it is a credit to the players for playing as well as they did."
Brown's strike was his first since the opening day 2-2 draw at Shrewsbury in August.
"It was a good finish from Simon because he composed himself. He just snatched at a couple earlier, which were both good chances," said Shirtliff. "He should have hit the target with both. But he hassles defenders and has pace."
Jonathan D'Laryea (ankle), Matt Hamshaw and Brown (both calf) and Barker (dead leg) all picked up knocks. But Shirtliff is expecting all four to be fit for the visit of Bury on Saturday.
STAGS END THEIR GOAL DROUGHT IN FINE STYLE
Evening Post, 06 December 2006
What a pity that one of Mansfield's best results of the season was seen by the worst Field Mill league crowd for several years.
Whether it was the rain, the lure of Chelsea on the box or the fact that Stags had not scored in open play for six matches that kept so many people in their armchairs, one can only guess.
What is certain, though, is that those who didn't turn out missed a treat as resurgent Mansfield make relatively light work of second placed Swindon.
The Robins had won all of their first three matches under new boss Paul Sturrock and travelled north full of confidence.
But they were no match for the Stags on the night, who fully deserved their first success in five matches.
The danger after the high of such an encouraging and hard-working display on Saturday in the FA Cup against Doncaster was that the Stags would fail to reproduce that level of performance.
But they carried on where they left off by showing the same desire to win and battling qualities that had served them so well against the League One side.
There was a hunger about the Mansfield players and their attitude was spot on. After that, it made everything else so much easier for them.
There was no doubt that Swindon looked slick in possession. But they did not seem to relish a physical challenge and lacked a cutting edge.
Once again, the Mansfield back four were superb and every time the Robins saw a chink of light, the door was firmly slammed in their faces.
As well as the three points there were other big plus points for Mansfield too.
Their opening goal was a first in open play for a considerable amount of time - 548 minutes of football to be precise.
Richard Barker - who else - was the man to end the drought as he took his tally for the season to 13.
Just as pleasing for the Stags was to see Simon Brown on the scoresheet for the first time since the opening day of the season at Shrewsbury.
Although he earlier missed two sitters, Brown did not let his head go down and that meant it was third time lucky for the former West Brom man when he eventually did find the target.
The little and large partnership won countless points for Mansfield last season when they really hit it off.
And if the two can remain in tandem for an extended period without injuries, then League Two defences are not going to have an easy time.
Barker's strike came after only three minutes from the Stags' first attack of the game and was expertly taken.
As Jon-Olav Hjelde flicked on Matt Hamshaw's right-wing centre, the skipper guided the ball into the left-hand corner on the volley to stun the visitors.
It was then that Mansfield got the bit of luck they needed when Carl Muggleton was again left helpless by a deflection.
Unlike in Saturday's game though when Brian Stock's effort produced a goal, the ball bounced back off the bar, leaving Ady Williams frustrated and Hjelde, who had made the partial block, relieved.
The Stags - chiefly through Brown - then failed to take advantage of several opportunities to extend their lead.
The striker headed wide before firing straight at keeper Phil Smith after the ball had bounced fortuitously into his path. He then stabbed into the side-netting at the far post when it looked easier to score.
But Brown was not ruing those chances for long as he doubled the Stags' tally six minutes from the break.
Hamshaw's diagonal pass in from the right beat the Swindon offside trap and allowed Brown to coolly round Smith and blast past a defender on the line.
Of course, Swindon stepped up the pressure after the break. They had to if they were to get back into the game.
But Muggleton was rarely troubled as his defenders kept Swindon at arms length and the keeper only had to make one save of significance, clawing away 17-year-old Lucas Jutliewicz's low drive from the edge of the box.
Going forward, Mansfield were not as effective as they were in the first period. But then, they didn't need to be.
They protected what they had with an air of confidence and that left several of the Swindon players visibly disheartened.
But consistency is what it is all about and that has been the Stags' biggest problem this season.
It is no use beating Swindon and then losing to Bury in the next home game on Saturday.
However, another three points against the Shakers would see faith restored that the Stags can improve on last season's finish of 16th.
It might just bring about the return of one or two of those stay-away fans as well.
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